FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
inventors workshop 1_9_14

Tate McCullough, left, and Macy McCullough, right, build balloon-powered vehicles Thursday at the Lawrence Hall of Science Inventor's Lab event at the Suisun City Library. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Features-local

Inventor’s Lab brings fun projects to libraries

By From page B5 | January 11, 2014

SUISUN CITY — A little imagination, a dose of encouragement and a few simple supplies were all that was needed for some fun at the Suisun City library Thursday afternoon.

Representatives from the Inventor’s Lab at the Lawrence Hall of Science helped about 20 youth make balloon-powered cars.

Reyna Harrison, Inventor’s Lab coordinator, made her way from table-to-table helping the elementary and middle school students secure a plastic water bottle or green plastic strawberry container, some wheels and a balloon. When the balloon was sealed tightly and filled with air the goal was for the car to be propelled the car into motion.

“It’s Lightning McQueen,” said Tony Hernandez. The 4 1/2-year-old boy is a big fan of Disney’s “Cars” and made sure his wheels were red since that’s the color of Lightning McQueen.

His mother, Heidi Hernandez, seemed to enjoy it as much as her son.

“This is neat,” she said.

Harry Mims dropped by with his children, Ari Mims, 4, and Harrison Mims, 2.

“If I see something going  on I want my kids to be part of it,” he said. “It’s a learning experience.”

His son and daughter were content just blowing the balloons. He hoped it would stay that way and maybe he wouldn’t have to build the complete car.

Juggling two children, Mims knew he was taking a chance that if his children saw a child with a complete car, he’d have to build one. That happened. Harrison pitched into help Mims make a balloon-powered car for his daughter, while his son snuggled on his  shoulder.

The Inventor’s Lab is just one many programs and events at the library that offers memorable experiences for children and their parents, said Laurie Johnson, Suisun City’s supervising librarian.

That’s exactly what 8-year-old Lili Grieff and her father, Eric Grieff, were having – a memorable time.

“It’s not just about making something, you can have fun with it,” Lili said. “It can be used again. This stuff would have been thrown away. ”

Lili’s car was made out of an empty plastic strawberry basket. Father and daughter had one successful trip with the car and were working on a second.

“We’re shortening the balloon to make it more like an actual engine,” Lili said.

When they were done, Eric Grieff, a flight engineer in the United States Air Force reserves, helped a few other youth work on their cars.

Farrah McCullough learned patience helping her son, Tate McCullough, 7 1/2, and daughter Macy, 4 1/2, build their balloon-powered cars.

“You definitely need to follow someone’s lead on this,” she said.

Tate put his ear close to the inflated balloon, listening for leaks. He heard one.

“The trial-and-error teaches them patience,” McCullough said.

The program was perfect for her son who has become fascinated with science, she said.

“The focus is on engineering,” Hamilton said. “It’s about getting kids excited about science.”

She hopes those who attended will be inspired to look around their homes and find other materials that might be recycled and find a way to give them a second life by constructing something fun.

The Suisun City Library, 601 Pintail Drive, will host one more visit from the Inventor’s Lab at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 13. Spinning tops will be constructed.

The Inventor’s Lab will also make stops at Vallejo’s Springstowne Library on Wednesday to make balloon-powered cars. The address is 1003 Oakwood Drive. On Feb. 11 it stops at the JFK Library, 505 Santa Clara St., Vallejo, to make slime. Both begin at 4 p.m.

Family science Saturdays with the Inventor’s Lab are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 1 and March 1 at Loma Vista Elementary, 146 Rainier Ave., Vallejo. The first one will cover circuitry and the second LEGO engineering.

All events are free.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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